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Sunday, August 11, 2019

Book Review: Salvation Day by Kali Wallace

Salvation Day 
by Kali Wallace
July 9, 2019
Publisher: Berkley
A lethal virus is awoken on an abandoned spaceship in this incredibly fast-paced, claustrophobic thriller.

They thought the ship would be their salvation.

Zahra knew every detail of the plan. House of Wisdom, a massive exploration vessel, had been abandoned by the government of Earth a decade earlier, when a deadly virus broke out and killed everyone on board in a matter of hours. But now it could belong to her people if they were bold enough to take it. All they needed to do was kidnap Jaswinder Bhattacharya—the sole survivor of the tragedy, and the last person whose genetic signature would allow entry to the spaceship.

But what Zahra and her crew could not know was what waited for them on the ship—a terrifying secret buried by the government. A threat to all of humanity that lay sleeping alongside the orbiting dead.

And then they woke it up.

Zahra and her fellow followers of Adam Light sneak aboard a shuttle heading to Armstrong City on the moon, posing as members of the Space and Exploration Commission (SPEC). One of them is a pilot (a former member of SPEC long ago) who changes course and heads for the House of Wisdom. 

The other passengers on the shuttle are scholars going to spend the term in Armstrong City and Professor M’Baga, a faculty escort. Also on the shuttle is the only survivor of House of Wisdom, Jaswinder Bhattacharya, and his friend, Baqir Nassar (who came from the wasteland himself as a child). 

Jaswinder’s (called Jas the rest of the book) mother had designed the engines for the ship while his father had solved the root module salt accumulation problem for large-scale microgravity agriculture (and tended the gardens on the ship, too). Zahra’s father was accused of the massacre from a virus on the ship, which caused her mother to flee to the wastelands with her daughter.

When they head for the House of Wisdom, trailing the Moon in its own orbit and Zahra’s bunch pulls out a gun, things escalate. The shuttle is destroyed, and they must go through the ship, encountering the frozen bodies of the dead. The virus is still alive and what happened years ago, begins again.

Written in first person, different sections are told by Zahra, Jas, and a third one from translations of fragments spoken in Archaic Mandarin Chinese found on the probe UC33-X sent from a group of people from Earth from an alien world. The story is well written, and it kept me reading. The storyline is hard science fiction, but it is also horror, ala Alien, The Thing, and even Pitch Black, with strong hints of apocalyptic zombie films and books.

I gave Salvation Day 4 ½ sheep.

Pamela Kinney

About the Author:
Kali Wallace has had a lifelong passion for both science and storytelling, and she earned a PhD in geophysics before becoming an author. Salvation Day is her first novel for adults. She is also the author of two young adult novels, Shallow Graves and The Memory Trees; the children’s fantasy novel City of Islands; and a number of short stories. After spending most of her life in Colorado, she now lives in southern California.

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